Category Archives: Heartland Community College

What’s behind the big pile of dirt on Raab Road?

Dozens of times over the past several months, I have driven past the CornBelters stadium site on Raab Road wondering just what was going on behind the big pile of dirt.

This photo taken from the pressbox, directly behind home plate, shows the seating bowl behind home plate and down the first base line, the outline of the first base dugout, and the rightfield berm in the distance.  At the top of the seating area will be a wide concourse that will wrap around the stadium.

This photo taken from the pressbox, directly behind home plate, shows the seating bowl behind home plate and down the first base line, the outline of the first base dugout, and the rightfield berm in the distance. At the top of the seating area will be a wide concourse that will wrap around the stadium.

Monday night, the Normal Town Council got a first hand look at the excellent construction progress being made on the stadium that will be home to the Frontier League baseball team and Heartland Community College baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s soccer.

By the way, that big pile of dirt is actually a seating berm.

A worker lays sod on the left field seating berm Monday evening at the stadium under construction at the east end of the Heartland Community Colege campus on West Raab Road.

A worker lays sod on the left field seating berm Monday evening at the stadium under construction at the east end of the Heartland Community Colege campus on West Raab Road.

Perhaps anticipating Tuesday’s rains, crews were laying down sod on the twin berms which will provide outfield seating for baseball fans and spectators of other events held in the stadium.

On the other side of the berm, you get a true sense of what it will be like inside the stadium.

Inside, the concrete retaining wall has been poured and the dugouts are clearly visible down each line.   You also get a sense of the amount of permanent seating, about ten rows of seats between the press box and the box seats behind home plate and extending down the left field and right field lines to about the far side of each dugout. 

You also can see evidence of concession stands, luxury suites, and restrooms along a very wide concourse that will completely circle the stadium.

Club officials say that if all goes well the field turf will be installed around Nov. 1.

Already, 10 of the 12 suites have been sold, along with hundreds of season tickets.   

A-maizing progress, indeed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Heartland Community College, Town Council

Celebrating a major milestone at Heartland

Bright sun, a spring breeze, and the smell of grilled hot dogs punctuated the groundbreaking ceremonies Monday for the new $12 million multi-purpose stadium on the east side of Heartland Community College’s Raab Road campus.

Heartland athletes were among the guest of honor at Monday's stadium groundbreaking.  They will begin playing next year in what has to be one of the nation's premier facilities for community college athletics.

Heartland athletes were among the guests of honor at Monday's stadium groundbreaking. They will begin playing next year in what has to be one of the nation's premier facilities for community college athletics.

The large turnout demonstrated the high level of community interest and excitement surrounding this project.   

The stadium will open next March as the home of Heartland’s baseball, softball, and soccer programs and a Frontier League baseball franchise.

  Ad-hoc baseball committee chair Alan Sender explained how a $3.5 million college facility became a $12 million, privately-owned multi-purpose stadium for the community.

Steve Malliet leads the Normal Professional Baseball ownership group which includes a number of partners.   He’s been involved in the launch of several successful minor league franchises and says the excitement level here is the highest he’s seen.

Malliet said the team has received an amazing 1,000 entries so far in the Name the Team contest.  

 The winner will receive a gift package that includes special recognition on Opening Day 2010 and season tickets.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Heartland Community College

Meet Mr. Normal Professional Baseball — Alan Sender

He’s the straw that stirred the drink, our fearless leader, our clean up man and closer all rolled into one.

He is Alan Sender — Chris Koos’ neighbor, a poor unfortunate Cubs fan, and the citizen most responsible for attracting professional baseball to Normal.heartland-cc-stadium-groundbreaking-033009-001

As the unelected head of the ad-hoc baseball committee, Alan rode herd over the rest of us as we listened to the sales pitches of league commissioners, met potential owners, worked with consultants, weighed stadium proposals, and received our indoctrination into the crazy business of professional baseball.

Alan was the first to articulate our committee’s purpose.  He visited minor league ballparks, courted potential owners, and lit a fire under us as it became evident that the clock was ticking on Heartland Community College’s $3.5 million contribution and our committee seemed no closer to landing a team than we were the day we first met.

Alan pushed to get consultant Mike Thiessen hired, and Mike’s efforts helped accelerate interest in the project.   In the final push, we saw a flurry of interest from various leagues and ownership groups, which included some of the biggest names in sports.

 We were actually able to pick and choose who we wanted to work with. 

Alan’s work wasn’t done.  He addressed the Town Council and the Heartland Community College board and was our spokesman in the news media.    He accompanied the ownership group on visits to local businesses, helped put together the ballpark financing, and became a part owner of the Frontier League franchise himself.

As a citizen-volunteer, Alan Sender put his money where his mouth is.   And before the first pitch is ever thrown or first corner kick ever taken at the new stadium on Heartland’s beautiful campus, this community is better for it.

2 Comments

Filed under Baseball, Heartland Community College